City Considers Removing Bicyclist's Memorial
The city is thinking about removing an unusual, homemade memorial on Shore Front Parkway that is dedicated to a young bicyclist who died there last fall, The Wave has learned.
The three-part memorial, located on Beach 77 Street and Shore Front Parkway, consists of a white dirt bike that is chained to a traffic sign on the median, a photo memorial that is decorated with flowers and a spray-painted body outline on the road surface. The boy's name, Andre Anderson, his age, 14, and the date of the accident, 09-24-05, and the words "killed by automobile," are painted nearby the body outline.
The memorial first appeared shortly after the Anderson's death, but the white bicycle or "Ghost Bike," a symbol of the teenager's love of bikes, was dedicated by a cyclists group February 18, on what would have been Anderson's 15 th birthday. He was struck and killed by a Lincoln Navigator as he was riding his bike in the eastbound lanes. Police ruled it an accident.
The memorial may be the best-kept makeshift memorial on the peninsula - other deteriorated ones can be spotted on several utility poles in Rockaway - but sources tell The Wave that the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. and the 100 Precinct have met to discuss its removal.
Anderson's mother, Audrey, told The Wave that she was contacted recently by DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy about the removal of the memorial, but no city agency, so far, has come right out and said it has to go.
Audrey said McCarthy told her that 100 Precinct Commander Charles Neacy wanted it gone, but a police source says that's not true and that it's up to Parks because that agency controls the median. Police would only be there if there was "community outcry." The DOT recently used painted lines to narrow Shore Front Parkway - a move that was prompted in part by Anderson's death - and workers were careful to paint around the body outline.
The Wave asked Parks spokesperson Warner Johnston if the memorial would be removed, but he also skirted the issue saying only, "Our new Rockaway Administrator, Jill Weber, will be in touch with the family at some point so that we can come up with a plan that is mutually agreeable to all," Johnston said. "This may include exploring a more permanent way to memorialize their child, such as a planted tree or bench."
But the teen's mother says she's not interested in alternatives. "I am totally against it," Audrey told The Wave. "My son died on that street."
The Anderson family frequently visits the site to remember their loved one, leave fresh flowers and do other maintenance, Audrey said.
The Wave found fresh flowers on our unannounced visit Monday.
"I clean around it. We weed around it. My family takes very good care of it," Audrey said. "I don't want anyone to touch it. If it bothers anyone I apologize."
Time's Up, the grassroots environmental group that helped dedicate the bike in Anderson's memory, is expressing opposition with a memorial ride Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m.
"We oppose this action by the city and we think that the Ghost Bike memorial is important to memorialize Andre Anderson and draw attention to the problem of cyclists safety in this city," said spokesperson Aaron Grogan. The ride will start in three locations: the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge and Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn. A starting point in the Bronx had not been determined at press time. The rides will converge on Houston Street and may continue to Rockaway.
Meanwhile, Audrey had this to say about their gesture: "I am forever grateful to those people because they cheered me up on one of the saddest days of my life by putting that bicycle there."